Years ago that might have been an intro to a bad joke, but instead it's Los Angeles' new reality when it comes to the state of its basketball teams. The Clippers beat the Lakers on the Lakers' home court Friday, 105-95, and the final score doesn't properly highlight the disparity between the two teams when it comes to depth and athleticism. Of course, the season is young and the Lakers' new players are learning their new offense, but for now, it's pretty clear which NBA team is the best in L.A. right now.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. Going deep
Since the opening day of training camp, every player on the Clippers has called this season's team the deepest he's ever been on. Even Lamar Odom and Chauncey Billups, who have been on three championship teams between them, say it's the deepest they've ever seen. Against the Lakers, a team not known for its depth, the Clippers showcased how deep they really are. They were able to jump out to a 10-point lead late in the third quarter despite getting only 26 combined points from Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. For the game, the Clippers' trio finished with 37 points.
It was a different player on the Clippers' bench who came up big in each quarter. Caron Butler went for nine points in the first quarter, Jamal Crawford went for nine points in the second quarter and Griffin went for nine points in the third quarter. Crawford was once again a force off the bench, scoring 21 points after going for 29 points in the season opener.
2. CP3 dishes
Paul's ability to direct an offense is nothing new, but Friday night he ran circles around the Lakers, who were forced to start Steve Blake in place of the injured Steve Nash. Through three quarters, Paul had 14 assists to just 12 for the entire Lakers team. Paul finished with 18 points, 15 assists and three rebounds despite sitting for most of the fourth quarter. The Lakers also finished with 15 assists. Even when Eric Bledsoe, who finished with 10 points and two assists, came into the game, he had his way with the Lakers' overmatched guards, who found themselves on the floor a couple of times after getting crossed over.
3. Griffin matures
If this were last season, there would have been an altercation or two in this Clippers-Lakers game. These games usually are good for one or two per contest. But despite getting tangled up with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol on a couple of occasions late, Griffin bit his lip and walked away when he was called for the foul. Griffin's teammates and coaches have preached to him the importance of keeping his cool, not overreacting to every call that doesn't go his way and not getting overly aggressive after plays are over. It seemed like advice that would be easier said than done for Griffin but so far he has followed through on what he has been told, and he was able to get through the game without any major incidents.